essays

Meditation on the Comet Neowise

Climbing Mount Sugarloaf in South Deerfield, Massachusetts last night, I expected to be awed by the sight of the comet Neowise, set against the backdrop of thousands of stars.
 
Instead I felt something more mundane – an affection for the Earth, the fireflies, the crickets singing, the grass slightly cool and wet from a light, misty fog, and mountaintop trees edging the infinite ocean of space. Neowise itself has such a gentleness, with a soft, just-visible tail trailing upward so the comet appears to be falling, creating the impression of a shooting star or cottonwood tree’s fluffy seedball drifting, cascading slowly down the sky.

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A Blessing for Wildness

       May spotty skies of dog fur and loving eyes lap you with the wet kisses of clouds overhanging unconditionally all you ever felt or believed
       May you break into the abyss of laughter and shout for joy as the Eden of allowing rewilds you from edges hardened by too much time in houses and buildings
       May you grow green canopies for hair, feeling the wafted chemical messages of trees in the branching tentacles of your interbeing brain and heart
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Rainstorm in the Smith Campus Center

(Original piece written on October 16, 2019)

Last night at the spaceship-like Campus Center of Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, among gleaming rooftop windows supported by a web-like structure of aluminum metal, and smooth concrete floors awash in white flourescence, I unexpectedly found myself in a room full of about 25 kids, all of whom seemed to be anywhere between 8-15 years old (with the exception of two older adults) watching the Democratic Debate on a large TV mounted on the wall.  (more…)

Play

A few nights ago I saw the documentary “Birth of the Cool” about the life-and-music (inseparable to him) of Miles Davis.

At one point in the film, Miles says to his bandmates as they explore new musical forms: “Don’t play what you know – play what you don’t know.”

This phrase crystallized something for me – moments where I realized I don’t really know anything – that any conceptual form of knowing is itself a kind of movie overlaid on the surface of the unknown, projections dancing in a life-giving darkness. (more…)

The Soft Galaxy (Eulogy for a Chicken)

I’m still thinking of what was happening in Roadrunner’s mind the other day, standing five feet from the back door to the house, on a stoop two steps above the ground, facing the door as if wanting to come in. Every time I think of it, I feel sad – sadder than someone raised in a culture of scientific materialism blended with Catholic ideas about the specialness of humans is really supposed to feel about a chicken.

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The Mother of All Attunement (August 2016)

Walking the sandy path through the woods by Dyer’s Pond in Wellfleet, Massachusetts – with dried pine needles crackling under my bare feet, and late afternoon sun warming my bare upper body, and droplets from the sandy-bottom pond still meandering down my skin – I remembered that a body larger than my own or my mother’s had carried me like this throughout my life, and that this body had a name I could hear, a face I could touch, and an empathic resonance that could soak into the cells of my being, if I let it.

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Stillness Rises

Lately – amid the unfolding catastrophes of climate change, white supremacy, potential nuclear war and physical, emotional, psychological and institutionalized violence of many kinds – I’ve been spending hours of what free time I have lying down in a grassy field among pine cones and dry brown needles from last Fall, amid the deep and imperfectly-perfect harmonies of Highland Park, watching clouds drift, picking seeds from the open cones, soaking in sun and doing as much nothing as I possibly can.

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Memory’s Curve

Sitting outside the ice cream place in a small New England college town you ate strawberry ice cream and remembered the man everyone said was insane – the one you met before you ever met your father – who took you to get your first bowl as a child in another country and another world – and your tears openly shined.

I dropped for the moment any pretense of trying to interject evidence-based interventions into our time together (though I value the crystallized care they can be the expression of), and said what seemed obvious to us both:  “Maybe he wanted to send you a message today.” To which you replied, “Maybe he did.”

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Spark

It was strange to walk out of all that stone and wool, the many kinds of cloth and reverberating footfalls, Latin chants and icicles dripping, that deep silent well in which people rarely spoke (unless to read in Latin about the nature of God’s oneness or the strict rules of their order) and even more rarely looked at each other, and then, unexpectedly, to behold the carnival.

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Outgrowing the Mechanism (Envisioning a Natural, Relational, and Creative Paradigm for Psychotherapy)

The Medical Model as the Tin Man in Oz

I wonder if psychotherapy loses its heart in the medical model, by being defined within a mechanistic paradigm of fixing, controlling, or manipulating a machine rather than of an essentially-mysterious and relational experience of nature and creativity.

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